University of Chicago Law Review

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Pharmaceutical research and development is a lengthy, risky, and expensive enterprise. The industry depends uniquely on patent and trade secret protections to support its investments in innovative activities. However, recent legislative and regulatory developments threaten the value of pharmaceutical intellectual property in two distinct respects. First, patent and related protections are being restricted, and effective enforcement of these rights is being made increasingly difficult. Second, price controls and similar initiatives are interfering with market-based returns during the limited period in which patent rights are in force. This Essay describes the importance of intellectual property rights to the pharmaceutical industry, reviews recent efforts to restrict these rights, and urges that pharmaceutical intellectual property rights should be protected in order to foster continued innovation in the interests of patients and society at large.